Sunday, June 29, 2008

prodigals and paper plates

I guess we are having to accept the fact that Charlotte really isn’t going to have much more to do with us. Sigh. The usual explanation is that, you know, she’s seventeen, has a job, has (somewhat of) a vehicle, and that would make sense except that…well, we’ve been expecting her to drop out of our life for quite sometime now. Children of divorce have to decide which parent is right and which parent is the loser. Guess which side of the coin we landed on?

I admit that whenever a family has ‘issues’ with a child I assume they must have done something wrong (in other words, if I do everything right, then I won’t ever have to go through that kind of pain.) And you know, there is truth in that. We do a lot of things wrong. But I also have to accept the reality that even when you do everything right, you can’t control someone else’s decisions. Yet I know the story of the prodigal son- I know how much fun he had at first, and I know where he ended up, and I know many other prodigal stories that have that same plot. Many of them don’t end as well, though. Many of them end up starving in the pig sty, always too stubborn to admit that maybe they had something to do with their situation, that even though their parents were the biggest losers on the planet they themselves could have been- dare I say it- a little bit less self-centered too. How will our story end? Only God knows.

On a funnier note, this morning Malachi (who is nine and a half) was shocked to discover that not all animals mate for life. I explained a few of the more…um…unorthodox mating behaviors of several animals. For instance, I said a goat will kill itself in its efforts to impregnate all the females it finds.

Malachi says he would rather die by eating too many paper plates.

Give it a few years, kid.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gas Prices: My Opinion

So, this is an unpopular statement, but I think gas prices are just fine they way they are (we are currently paying $3.99/gal in St. Louis). Why do I feel this way? Well, I think that Americans have been spoiled for too long. We have access to an enormous amount of goods at ridiculously low prices, and have not been satisfied with all we have. We always have to have more (and yes, I’m including myself in this generalization, because I fall into that same trap, too). In a way, the high gas prices are a good antidote to our greed. We have to be more frugal with our driving and our shopping. I will admit that I gripe and have a heart attack every time I fill up the van (ouch! $71 last week, and I’m already 2/3 of the way thru the tank…no driving for me this week!) but honestly, I do think it is a good thing. Perhaps frugality at the gas tank will translate to frugality throughout our entire life. We could use a dash of Puritan ethics- make do with what you have (or something like that).
Having said all that, I do also believe the oil companies are truly evil. That is an entirely separate issue…I mean, I know the prices are partly a result of the gas companies’ greed, and that is wrong, but I also think the gas prices are good for us as Americans, if that makes any sense.
Well my children are pestering me so I need to stop my ruminations about rather insignificant things and go back to work. Sigh.

Friday, June 20, 2008

‘Europeans watch the time. Here, we have time to watch.’

I read that Moroccan saying yesterday and was seriously convicted by it. I have often thought about my obsession with productivity, inherited in a straight line from my distant Puritan ancestors and further encouraged by my years in the American school system. Getting stuff done is the goal of our life; it makes me feel valuable and important. And there are good things about that mentality- we are an amazingly productive society, which has given birth to all sorts of nifty inventions like computers and Netflix and made them easily accessible to the most frugal of housewives.

But of course, they are many, many problems with our (my) obsession with hurrying through life with one eye on the clock and the other eye on our to-do list. Mostly, we miss out on life. I really like the idea of sitting on the porch with my coffee and banana bread, idly watching the garden grow and chatting with the neighbors. But then I start thinking of the filthy bathroom (Yikes! I have to clean that today!) and dinner needs to be done and oh crap, I’m so far behind on the kids’ school paperwork and don’t even mention youth group stuff…and there goes my idyllic summer evening. How do we get out of this mess of over-achieving and busy-ness? I just don’t know. But I’m working on it.

‘Time is our servant here. We are not the servants of Time.’

Monday, June 16, 2008

Technological Stone-Age

We’ve been content for the last several years to live in the 90’ know, pre-universal cell-phone usage and easily-accessible DSL. We’ve tolerated our dial-up crawling along the information super-highway. We’ve waited patiently to get home before making all those important phone calls. Our back pockets and purses have been conspicuously silent, abstaining from the symphony of electronic beeping and bipping that rings out everywhere that 21st Century Americans congregate. We can only catch glimpses of all those popular YouTube videos, waiting two hours for a few seconds of jerky movement to download. We have proven- countless times- that we will not capitulate to the societal pressure to do multiple things faster in a more irritating way.

But now that the initial novelty has worn off, now that whipping out the cell-phone is not a contest to prove one’s yuppiness, now that it is pretty much pointless to surf the net at dial-up speeds, we are beginning to shop around for all those 21st century luxuries, which are now cheaper and laden with accessories. This is when I love capitalism.

However, I still refuse to watch TV. My brain is irreplaceable.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I have some sort of nasty cold and it is making me miserable. I know I need rest and I am forcing myself to sit down between bouts of housecleaning. It is just so difficult, sitting here doing nothing, when there are dishes stacked up and toys strewn everywhere and hair in the bathroom sink and $20 missing somewhere in the house...especially when that $20 is our ice cream money for tonight and I’d really like to find it before going out!

On the good side, the kids do a lot of work (which is as it should be, considering most of the mess is from them!) and I can enjoy the wonderful Putumayo disc we borrowed from the library (World Groove, for the other Putumayo fans out there) while I am resting.

Today is Anastasia’s eighth birthday- it feels unreal that she is so old!- and we are preparing for her birthday party tomorrow. Cookie pizza, sub sandwiches, homemade party hats and hopefully a clean house. The boys and I took breakfast to her in bed this morning. It is so good to see the children caring for each other. They have the usual sibling disputes and frustrations but it is always apparent they truly love each other. If they can make it through life with good family relationships I figure I’ll have accomplished something significant!

Well, I need to finish my tea and get back to work…or at least my task-mastering…those little sluggards are lollygagging while I’m distracted here! Hee hee hee.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

'We are from the Clan of Darkness. The Dark One.'

This is my favorite quote from ‘Bleach: Memories of Nobody’, the movie that Harper and I drove 80 miles to see last night. What can I say? It’s anime. Cheesy, melodramatic, but often funny and usually interesting. The movie was fun and well done- not as good as the manga or the anime but definitely worth seeing (if you’re already a fan). It is showing only two days here in the states, yesterday and today, and in ‘select’ theatres, just to insure that all the fans can prove their dedication.

And remember…we are from the clan of darkness…

Friday, June 6, 2008

Brick Heaven

We have found it- the place where all the good bricks go when they die.

It’s called our backyard.

The boys and I are digging out the topsoil in a small area of our yard so we can put in new, uncontaminated (supposedly) topsoil and then plant a veggie garden. Now, we are used to the travails of digging in an old urban area. Broken bricks, glass, miscellaneous trash- we have been dealing with this for years. But this particular area that we have chosen for our victory garden is a little bit beyond the norm. Row upon row of perfect bricks, lined up neatly on their sides, squeezed tightly together just a few inches below the surface. It’s like a mass grave- I wonder what merciless brick genocide happened here? Is this the forgotten evidence of the horrors of progress- defenseless old buildings demolished without pity or respect, torn down viciously to clear the way for modernity? Not that our house is modern, by any stretch…nor does the demolishing of old buildings even distantly compare to the atrocity of true genocide…but you get the point.

Well, these recovered bricks will now get the respect and proper burial they deserve. I will use them for the brick walkway I began some months ago, for them to be walked upon with dignity until the next wave of progress crashes over our neighborhood- perhaps, hopefully, long after we have gone on to our own burial grounds- and they are pulled up again and dumped into another mass grave.

Makes me glad that I’m not a brick.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Summer of Camps

I’m bowing to the inevitable and cutting back on school. I always have plans to school thru summer but something about the heat, the schedule, and just life in general prevents it from happening. BUT we will continue working on math and bible reading (the kids enjoy that anyway) just so that our days feel like they have some purpose. Then the rest of the time will be filled with camp, cleaning, gardening, and hopefully relaxing (yea, right.)

Speaking of camp, this will go down in history as the summer of camps:

India- one ‘Summertime Adventure Camp’ $18

Anastasia- ‘Summertime Adventure Camp’ $36

VBS free

VBS $20

horse camp $100

Malachi- Computer camp $750 (!!!!!) expletive inserted here

VBS $20

horse camp $100

Stuart- Computer camp $775 (!!!) stronger expletive inserted here

VBS $20

horse camp $100

Yes, poor India gets the short end of the deal, mostly b/c she is still only 3. Sniff sniff. And yes, we are requesting financial aid from everything and everybody- the boys are available for simple manual labor or baking. At the end of it all, we will either have the funnest summer ever or be dead.